I love to drive, especially road trips.  But there are a lot of drivers doing stupid, even dangerous things all the time and I sometimes feel I see more than my fair share of them!!

I stopped (mostly) being annoyed at other drivers when one day years ago, as we drove through post office parking lot to drop some letters in the box, another driver did something and our older daughter voice piped up from her car seat, “You stupid idiot”.  OK, the driver probably did do something stupid, but…   Thankful that she didn’t use any really bad words and knowing where that came from, I decided to stop being verbally annoyed, especially out loud, and I still strive, not always successfully, not to let the stupid things other drives sometimes (often) do get under my skin.

This morning I happened to listen to a segment of the Mike Gallagher show where the topic was road rage.  Mike was saying that he was driving along this morning, going with traffic speed, talking on the phone (helping a friend going through a bereavement), a woman behind him honked, then passed him, making yakking-on-the-phone gestures.  He said he was furious and then realized he didn’t know her situation and wondered why he and others couldn’t just disengage and not get angered by what other drivers do.  He said this woman didn’t know why he was talking on his cell and that he could drive and talk, holding the phone, at the same time.

Let me get one point out of the way immediately.  Mike’s argument that talking on the phone is no different than talking with a passenger or listening to (and maybe interacting with) the radio, CD, GPS or whatever, is one with which I tend to agree.  However, in most of these cases, you have, or can have, both hands on the wheel.  If you’re not talking hands-free in your vehicle, you’re  driving with only one hand on the wheel and  that’s not as safe as using both hands.  I think if you talk on the phone in your car, it should be hands-free.  Fiddling with your GPS, reaching for things in the car, turning to look at children or dogs (or having a dog or child in your lap—BIG no-no’s in my book) are different.  Things that take your attention away from the road are things that can cause accidents.  That’s why I always try to have  food or CD’s where I can get them without turning my head or taking my attention from the road for more than a quick look.  And driving with your knee or knees while doing something with both hands is an even worse idea, especially if there’s any amount of traffic nearby.

My thought on hand-held cell phones

Texting while driving shouldn’t happen.  Ever.  Whether you think it should be against the law or not, is something else, but if you are driving, you should NOT be texting.  I guess the only reason I can think of to text while driving is if someone is trying to run into you or something similar; some emergency where you need to call the police but it’s not safe to pull over, but it would still be dangerous.

Enough said

Now for the rest of the discussion.  I don’t think it matters why you’re talking on the phone while driving.  It’s either OK or it’s more dangerous, regardless of topic.  But it is a bit of a mystery why, when someone gets behind the wheel, aggressive or annoying tendencies come so easily to the forefront.  I admit I’m a type-A person, partially reformed, but still struggling with it.  I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can let most things go and just drive.  I substitute wry laughter for anger, an unbelieving face for an irritated one, shaking my head to indicate I just can’t believe it.  Let me say that I don’t (usually) do this where the other person can see me.  I don’t want to incite road rage.  I get road irritation sometimes, nothing that seeks revenge (except as in the situation in the next paragraph.)

And when I do get angry—when someone comes dangerously close to me when cutting in front of me or rides almost in the back of the van while I’m passing (going over the legal speed limit by my 5 mph)—I don’t give in to road rage.  Yes, I will use the horn liberally.  I have been known to slow just slightly and without hitting my brakes, trapping the tailgater behind me for longer than necessary.  I know; it’s dumb.  But it’s SO satisfying!  I also confess, even though I’m Lutheran and not Catholic, that I have hoped a highway patrolman would stop someone driving like an idiot and taken unseemly pleasure, even pumped my arm (yes, taking one hand off the steering wheel) and said, “YES!!” when I’ve come upon one of these drivers actually stopped by the police or highway patrol.

A “Yes!!” moment

I guess it’s a bit like being an alcoholic—I’m a recovering driver-annoyed person,  never fully recovered, fighting the fight every time I drive.  Overall, I’m very courteous unless really, really, really pushed.  I have a few pet peeves about drivers which I’ll talk about some other time, but they’re just that: peeves.  They don’t incite me to run someone off the road, pull a gun on them (which I don’t have in the car anyway) or anything like that.  I’m with Mike in this…let’s all try to let any looming road rage or road annoyance just go away.  Take several deep breaths and don’t worry. Wax on; wax off.  If you need to be somewhere on time, leave early enough to get there without rushing. Be thankful if there are no accidents or delays and you get where you’re going on time.    Or go really wild and hope for the highway patrol.  I give you permission.  You can confess later.

  1. thirdplan8 says:

    Great job!!! It made me laugh a little! 🙂